Inside: Looking to manage your money situation in the year ahead? Use this advice from guest writer, Natalie Maximets, certified life transformation coach, to figure out how to talk to your spouse about money without fighting.
Have you noticed that talking about finances with a romantic partner feels more awkward than any other topic? That’s why so many of us avoid such conversations entirely only to find out later that we are up to our eyeballs in debt.
Of course, timing is essential, and you don’t usually start your first date with questions like “Where did you grow up? By the way, do you have a mortgage to pay off?” It sounds weird, right?
But if you don’t talk about money topics later in your relationship, you won’t agree to maintain a reasonable family budget if you decide to get married one day. And if you’re already married, you know there are plenty of big money issues that need to be discussed, not swept under the rug.
So, how do you talk to your spouse about money without fighting? Well, there are a few key tips.
5 Strategies to Make Talking to Your Spouse or Partner About Money Drama Free
1. Choose Your Words Carefully
You should always be aware of the words and intonation you use to talk about finances in a relationship. The goal here is to foster an open conversation, not give your partner the third degree. So, learn to hear and understand the other person.
Test the waters with abstract questions if you’re only just learning to be a couple. You can ask something like, “If you received a lot of money through inheritance, how would you spend it?” The answer will help you understand their spending habits.
And if you are talking to your spouse about money, you can approach the topic by pointing out some specific changes in your lifestyle (e.g., another baby is coming soon). That way you have can open up the conversation about a budget while being on the same page.
2. Talk About Money Openly
While you might not rush to talk about money with your partner at the initial stages of a relationship, not discussing finances later because it feels embarrassing is a big mistake.
Discuss your financial situation a little at a time. You can start by talking about consumption in general and your money habits in particular. Ease into the conversation in a way that feels comfortable then make a plan together to tackle debt.
And remember to choose an appropriate moment. For instance, if you plan to talk to your partner about money, don’t ambush them when least expected. You should both be refreshed, sober, and hopefully fully dressed (unless it’s a naked Thursday). After all, it’s a serious conversation, so you want to be focused.
3. Be Honest
Describe to your partner how you typically handle money or how your parents did it when you were a kid. Then, mention a few things you’ve recently bought, such as a kayak or a life-sized inflatable elephant, and how much they cost. What is your partner’s point of view on these purchases?
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect complete alignment from the start. Your experiences and habits may differ significantly. That’s why you need to have a conversation about money in the first place – to create a unified strategy that will ensure a comfortable life together.
Also, always tell your partner when you think something is unreasonably expensive and isn’t worth buying. Explain why – maybe the product is of low quality, or you already have something similar, or it won’t get enough use.
In addition, don’t hesitate to talk to your partner about debt. Reveal your credit score and consumer debt, and ask your loved one to do the same. The average American has over $90K in debt – so make sure you talk about it!
4. Don’t Put Off Talking About Financial Problems
Neither you nor your spouse is an ostrich, and hiding your heads in the sand won’t help you escape money issues. So whenever you’re concerned about potential financial risks, share these worries with your partner.
Learn to talk to your spouse about money problems calmly. Don’t wait until it’s too late. And remember that you’re both grown-ups and can discuss money in a relationship as civilized people. Civilized means no screaming, pointing fingers, or name-calling.
5. Make Money Discussions a Healthy Habit
Lastly, you should learn to discuss finances with your spouse regularly. Forming this habit might take a while. Studies show that a new behavior takes root in our life in six to nine months.
But until talking about weekly spending and income becomes a habit, you may have trouble building an entirely trusting and comfortable relationship.
Finally, remember that there is no one size fits all solution. Each couple should choose a plan that works best and makes everyone happy. Just make sure you make one!
Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach and an expert in cognitive behavioral therapy. You can find and read more of her articles at the OnlineDivorce.com blog.